Tech News Newsletter Image 12-14-2021

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Tech newsletter: Your home’s surveillance state

Here's this week's tech newsletter.


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on Dec 14, 2021   Updated on Dec 15, 2021, 10:14 am CST

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Internet Insider, where we dissect tech and politics unfolding online.


  • A new surveillance state is here: Inside your own home
  • Senate confirms Jessica Rosenworcel to new term at FCC
  • Amazon’s ads are ‘unlawfully deceiving’ consumers, new complaint to the FTC says

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A man looking at security camera footage.
Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock (Licensed)


A new surveillance state is here: Inside your own home

The pandemic accelerated numerous troubling technologies or practices, but the one that may raise the most concerns is the rapid encroachment of surveillance technology into our private space at home as many were forced to lock down for extended periods of time. 

There are countless examples of how surveillance technology has become commonplace in our lives and homes. While attending school from home, students were forced to contend with faulty e-proctoring systems; Ring cameras have proliferated and Ring-captured videos go viral on TikTok every day; employees are concerned about how new surveillance measures threaten their privacy as employers seek to track their every keystroke or monitor their engagement via AI-powered cameras; and now, Ring has introduced a home security drone called Always Home Cam which navigates its way through the halls of your house

In other words, our homes are looking and feeling much different. The pandemic has only added to the growing use and domesticization of surveillance technologies and systems, meaning our homes are becoming sites of increased security in ways that challenge assumptions about privacy and publicity—and there is a burgeoning sense that this implementation is happening far more quickly than we can understand its potential consequences.

As academics Jathan Sadowski and Sophia Maalsen have put it: Some of the largest tech companies in the world “are now our roommates.”

Read the whole story here.

—Jake Pitre, contributing writer

In Body Image


These gift ideas for kids will put Santa to shame

Tired of losing the title of “best gift-giver” to Santa Claus? Here’s your chance to put Santa to shame with the best Christmas toy ideas for kids of all ages.

We scoured the internet and compiled a list of some of the best holiday toy deals you can take advantage of right now. Here are gift ideas that will have the kids saying, “Santa who?”


Jessica Rosenworcel smiling into camera.
FCC/Wikipedia (CC-BY)


Senate confirms Jessica Rosenworcel to new term at FCC

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel was confirmed for another term last week following a 68-31 vote in the Senate.

In a statement on Twitter, Rosenworcel thanked President Joe Biden and the Senate for cementing her role at the agency.

“It’s the honor of my lifetime to lead the @FCC and serve as the first permanent female Chair,” she wrote. “Thank you to the President and Senate for entrusting me with this responsibility. There’s work to do to make sure modern communications reach everyone, everywhere. Now let’s get to it.”

Rosenworcel, who has been serving as acting chair since the beginning of the Biden administration, has championed numerous issues including net neutralityrobocalls, and advocating for narrowing the “homework gap,” or students who don’t have access to high-speed affordable internet.

Rosenworcel was nominated by Biden alongside Gigi Sohn, a vocal advocate for net neutrality who continues to face opposition from some Republican lawmakers. Sohn had a confirmation hearing a few weeks ago.

The FCC remains in a 2-2 partisan deadlock even with the confirmation of Rosenworcel, after Biden took months to announce his plans to fill out the agency.

If Sohn is confirmed, the Democrats would secure a 3-2 majority.

—Mikael Thalen, staff writer


A person holding a phone and credit card while looking at the Amazon website on their computer.
Worawee Meepian/Shutterstock (Licensed)


Amazon’s ads are ‘unlawfully deceiving’ consumers, new complaint to the FTC says

A coalition of labor unions has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that alleges Amazon is “unlawfully deceiving” consumers by not properly disclosing ads in search results.

The complaint was filed by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC). In it, they allege that Amazon is failing to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose what items are advertisements and what are “organic” search results when consumers search for items on the platform.

“SOC has found evidence that Amazon is systematically flouting FTC guidance for such disclosures, and in addition is deliberately obfuscating identification of a key category of advertisements by delaying their ad labels from loading for several seconds,” the complaint reads.

The complaint says it analyzed more than 130,000 product searches on Amazon—both on desktop and on the mobile app—and found that Amazon was “substantially or entirely out of compliance with all the FTC’s specific guidelines for the visual identification of online advertisements on search engine pages intended to ensure that consumers are able to distinguish advertisements from organic search results.”

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Amazon defended itself and disputed the SOC complaint’s findings.

“This report is incorrect and misstates FTC guidance—ads in Amazon’s store always include a clear and prominent ‘sponsored’ label, implemented in accordance with FTC guidelines,” a spokesperson said.

—Andrew Wyrich, deputy tech editor

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*First Published: Dec 14, 2021, 11:05 am CST